A vision of America . A Vision of America by John Free The people that live on the road and ride freight trains, are called tramps. They try to remain unseen and are wary of anyone with a camera. With practice, I learned to approach these people and photograph them without too much trouble. Getting in this close to subjects, requires some verbal communication. In this case, I asked them where they were headed and what train they were waiting for. The man sitting on the track said, "We don't care". I was very impressed by that. She is fifteen years old and is running away from a broken home. I didn't notice the Jesus Saves written on the caboose until I had made the print. Many times luck favours the prepared. I keep hoping that she is ok somewhere today. I knew Joe for many years. He had fought in Korea and the war had a bad effect on him. He lived by this electrical tower in the Los Angeles freight yards. One day he disappeared with all his belongings, except for two books that he left there on the cement base of the tower. One of the books was titled, "How to make money with your camera". The other book was titled, "Anthropology. the study of man." I thought that Joe left the books there for me, but I wasnt sure, so I left them there. As documentary photographers, we must not touch or arrange things. Jim is a part time tramp. He works in construction and when he gets $1500.00 in his pocket, he hits the road, riding freight trains for pleasure. When I photographed him here, he was waiting to catch a freight train back home to Texas. New Orleans. The base player is heading home after an all night jam session. Bobby K was a friend of mine for many years. He was a tough guy, even with one leg. He could do almost anything, including being a very good street fighter. He had just been released from prison, where he spent 13 years for killing his wife and her boyfriend. He told me he was once an actor in several movies in the 1940s. First day of the twenty first century on the Staten Island Ferry N.Y. N.Y. Looking forward into her life. I have had some good luck on different new years days. He was kicked off his land and had to sell his belongings. Central Park New York. A fine warm spring day in 1983. I was away from home on an assignment and seeing this couple made me think of my wife back home in Los Angeles. Every Sunday, crosses are erected in the sand at Santa Monica Beach to honor the soldiers who were killed in Iraq. This image was made in 2006. I just happened to see these boys playing in the sand and thought that it was ironic. Student and master. I was struck by the irony of the old man pasing the Dancing sign. New Years day in a small fishing village in Scotland. These commercial fishermen just can’t seem to stay away from the sea, even on a holiday. When they noticed me, they invited me to a party in one of their homes. Another great day for me. Christmas Eve 1996. Victoria station, London. I was attracted to this scene, because it looked like old England to me. They rolled out the original Orient Express train. New Years day 2000. New York on the Staten Island ferry. I was taken with this reflection, with the woman and the World Trade Center buildings. He comes every Memorial day with his son and grandson to honor the veterans at the cemetery. No need to see his face. They are all the same. No face. No name. He works in an automobile junkyard taking parts off cars for customers. I was more interested in his hands than his face. The women come to watch the body builders at Muscle Beach in Venice California. Years later I was showing this print to a group of people and a man in the group pointed at the picture and said, "That’s me doing the handstand.” He told me the correct date of the photograph because he said he knew what bathing suit he wore that year. When I asked them if I could photograph their old Chevy, they said yes and then went into their house to get and bring out their most prized possessions. His was an old guitar and hers was a picture of her when she was twenty one. They then brought me inside for cake and milk. What a great time for me.
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